You want fries with that?

Gydle has been silent the entire month of November. No excuses, I just didn’t have anything to say. Then I woke up this morning and my brain was teeming with ideas. Was it something I ate?

First, I have a great gift idea.

I got an e-mail the other day from “American Gut.” Imagine my excitement! The Human Food Project is live on IndieGoGo. For only $99 and a stool sample, you can get a list of the microbes colonizing your gut. Upscaling is a bargain – it’s $180 for two samples, $260 for three and a mere $320 for a family of four!

For $500 you can collect a stool sample every day for a week, send it along with a diet diary (complete that online), and get DNA extraction and 16S rRNA sequencing on all seven samples.

You can even get your dog analyzed! Finally something really productive to do with that bag of poop!

If just knowing which microbes are in your gut isn’t enough for you, you can pay more and get a metagenomic analysis – that will tell you a bit about what the microbes might be doing.

This might be the perfect gift for that difficult-to-shop-for person – your boss, your mother-in-law, your dentist…

In other news, a few things have caught my eye in the local paper in the past few days. I know you’ll find these things as fascinating as I did.

Item #1: Front page news: a bear has been causing trouble in the canton Graubunden.

Anyone who has read my blog for a while knows I take issue with the Swiss attitude towards wildlife. Here it goes again. This individual, M13, has apparently committed the unforgivable crimes of killing a couple of sheep, approaching human habitations and rooting through garbage cans. The article explained that it was “brought up badly by a wild Slovenian mother” and “learned more bad habits living in Italy.” The rest of its siblings are apparently still in Italy, behaving badly, but nobody over there is complaining.”The problem is not bears per se, but M13 in particular,” reads the headline.

This is the only wild bear in Switzerland. It had a radio transponder, but lost that when it was hit by a train last year. That was also featured in the local news. The collar has been replaced so the authorities can keep tabs on the troublemaker. You’d think they would be a little more sympathetic. This guy has had a rough time. PTSD, anyone?

To illustrate the seriousness of the situation, the article recounted the fate of another bear who didn’t follow Swiss rules for wildlife etiquette. That bear, JJ3, was put to death after it stole a pie that was left in an open window and went on a rampage in a couple of barns.

“The best thing M13 can do at this point would be to hibernate,” said an official from the Federal Office for the Environment.

Either that or head back to Italy where the rules are significantly more lax.

Contrast that with this article from CNN, in which an elderly couple out for a stroll was attacked by a mama bear defending her cubs in British Columbia. “If a bear is determined to have attacked someone, often it is put down.” No mention of stolen pies. My mom, in Santa Fe, regularly has a bear visitor that knocks down her bird feeders. It’s not scared of her. Someone should tell the Swiss bear that it picked the wrong country.

Item #2: Parrot smugglers stopped at the Italian border 

As if bears weren’t bad enough, border authorities recently discovered seven white-capped pionus parrots crammed into a cat carrier and hidden under a blanket in a Swiss car. The parrot traffickers were presumably trying to smuggle them over the border for an Italian breeder. Apparently it’s illegal to import parrots into Switzerland. The story immediately reminded me of the massive seizure of 143 Mexican Redknee tarantulas at the Zurich airport last year. The post I wrote about this strange occurrence is one of Gydle’s most popular.

The article didn’t say what happened to the parrots. I’m assuming no one put them into MacDonald’s containers.

Item #2: Drive-thru prostitution

This little tidbit appeared at the bottom right-hand corner of the “Suisse” page in the local paper this morning, just under an article about the increasing prevalence of sexually transmitted disease. Without mentioning who is financing the venture, the article says that a bunch of garage-like boxes are being set up on the outskirts of Zurich.  Men (I’m assuming the clients will be male) will be able to drive their cars into the boxes and get “serviced” right there in the privacy of their cars. Gives a whole new meaning to the term “pick-up window.”

This being Switzerland, the prostitutes will need a permit. Pimping is illegal in Switzerland, but I know someone is making money on rent and permits here, and it isn’t the prostitutes.

You want fries with that?

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